Understanding Logos: Guide to Meaning & Significance
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


Let's face it, we all recognize a golden arch, an apple with a bite taken out, or a stylized bluebird immediately. What do they all have in common? You guessed it — they're all logos! But what's the big deal about logos? They're just pretty pictures, right? Well, not really. Logos carry a lot of weight. They're like the face of a brand, telling us a story with just a glance. So, let's dive straight into understanding logos, their significance, and what makes them tick. On top of our list is, of course, getting down to the nitty-gritty of the definition of logos.

A logo, in the most basic sense, is a symbol, design, or combination of text and image that identifies a company or brand. It's like a visual shorthand for a business's name or purpose. However, the true definition of logos is far richer and more fascinating. Let's break it down:

  • Unique Identity: A logo is unique to the company it represents. It's like the company's fingerprint. You wouldn't mistake Apple's logo for Samsung's, would you?
  • Brand Story: The logo tells a story about the brand. For example, the Amazon logo has an arrow that points from the letter 'a' to 'z', indicating that they sell everything from A to Z.
  • Visual Appeal: A logo is designed to be visually attractive, so it can grab attention and leave a lasting impression. The more attractive the logo, the more likely you are to remember it.
  • Consistency: A logo stays consistent across all platforms — be it a billboard, a business card, or a website. This consistency is key in creating a recognizable and reliable brand image.

There you have it! The definition of logos isn't just about a pretty design. It's about storytelling, creating an identity, and leaving an impression. It's a silent yet powerful communicator for a brand. And now that you know what a logo is, you're one step closer to understanding its true significance. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the world of logos!

Significance of logos

So, we've covered the definition of logos, but why are they so important? What role do they play in our everyday lives? Let's find out.

  • First Impressions: You know what they say about first impressions, right? They're everything. In the world of business, a logo is often the first thing a customer sees. A well-designed logo can pique interest and attract customers to explore more about the brand.
  • Brand Recognition: Think about this — when you're out shopping, what makes you reach for certain products over others? It's often the logo. A memorable logo helps customers recognize and choose your product among a sea of alternatives. It's like a friend waving at you in a crowded room.
  • Conveys Professionalism: A thoughtfully designed logo signals that you mean business. It shows you care about your brand, and by extension, your customers. It's like wearing a smart suit to a job interview.
  • Encourages Brand Loyalty: Over time, customers develop a certain affinity towards logos they see regularly. This familiarity breeds trust and loyalty. It's like seeing the face of a good friend. You feel connected and valued.

So, the definition of logos goes beyond a simple design. It's a crucial tool for making a strong first impression, standing out in the crowd, portraying professionalism, and building brand loyalty. In short, a good logo is like the perfect handshake — firm, confident, and memorable.

Types of Logos

Now that we know the significance of logos, let’s dive into the different types. Just like there are different genres of music, there are also various types of logos. Each has its unique style and communicates something different about a brand.

  • Wordmarks: These are text-only logos. Think Google or Coca-Cola. They wholly rely on the name of the brand, often using custom typography to make the logo unique.
  • Lettermarks: Lettermarks are logos made of initials or abbreviations. For example, IBM (International Business Machines) or HBO (Home Box Office). They're a great choice if your brand has a long name.
  • Pictorial marks: These logos use a graphic symbol or an icon—like Apple's apple or Twitter's bird. They're visually appealing and easy to remember, but they require a solid marketing strategy to connect the image to the brand name.
  • Abstract logos: Instead of recognizable images, abstract logos use geometric forms to represent a brand. Think Adidas's three stripes or Pepsi's circular logo. These logos can convey what your company does symbolically.
  • Combination marks: As the name suggests, these logos combine a wordmark and a symbol or icon. Some famous examples are Burger King or Lacoste. They offer both visual imagery and brand name recognition.
  • Emblems: These logos encase the company name within a design. Examples include Starbucks and Harley-Davidson. They often have a traditional appearance, but they might not be as versatile as other types of logos.

Understanding the types of logos can help you decide which kind suits your brand the best. Remember, the right type of logo can play a significant role in how your brand is perceived by the world.

Designing a logo is like making a sandwich: you need to layer all the right ingredients perfectly. It might seem challenging at first, but don't worry, we'll walk through it together. Let's start with the basics.

Understand your brand: First thing's first—you need to know your brand inside out. What's your brand's personality? If your brand was a person, who would it be? What's your brand's story? Understanding the answers to these questions will help guide your logo design.

Identify your target audience: Your logo isn't just about you—it's about your audience, too. If you're a toy company, your logo should appeal to kids (and their parents). If you're a luxury brand, your logo should exude sophistication. Keep your audience in mind.

Check out your competition: Look at what others in your industry are doing. This isn't about copying—it's about understanding industry trends and making sure your logo stands out.

Choose your logo type: Remember those types of logos we talked about earlier? Now's the time to pick one that suits your brand.

Play with colors and fonts: The color and font you choose can say a lot about your brand. For instance, red can evoke feelings of excitement or boldness, while a handwritten font might convey friendliness.

Keep it simple: When it comes to logos, less is often more. A simple, clean logo is easier to recognize and remember.

Make it scalable: Your logo should look good whether it's on a business card or a billboard. Make sure it's versatile and scalable.

Finally, you'll want to sketch out some ideas, create a digital version, and refine it until it's just right. And remember—you don't have to do it alone. There are plenty of resources and professionals out there who can help bring your logo to life.

Alright, now that you have a solid understanding of the logo design process, it's time for you to start creating something truly unique for your brand. Ready? Let's go!

Logo color psychology

Ever wondered why fast food logos often have a lot of red? Or why many financial institutions use blue in their logos? The colors we see have a deeper impact on our emotions and behaviors than you might think. This is what we call color psychology, and it plays a big role in logo design.

Let's take a quick tour through the color wheel and what each color can represent in a logo:

Red: Passion, excitement, danger. A red logo grabs attention and can evoke strong emotions. Think of the bold red of Coca-Cola or Netflix.

Orange: Creativity, youthfulness, enthusiasm. It's a vibrant color that can be a great choice for brands that want to appear energetic and friendly. Nickelodeon's splat logo comes to mind!

Yellow: Happiness, optimism, warmth. It's bright and cheerful, just like the golden arches of McDonald's.

Green: Nature, growth, health. It's often used by brands that want to convey a sense of eco-friendliness or natural goodness. Whole Foods and Starbucks, for example.

Blue: Trust, peace, loyalty. It's a popular choice for corporate logos because it conveys a sense of reliability. Think of Facebook or Visa.

Purple: Royalty, mystery, luxury. Brands that want to appear luxurious or creative often choose purple. Like the purple of Cadbury or Yahoo.

Black: Power, sophistication, elegance. It's often used by luxury brands to convey a sense of sophistication and elegance. Think of Chanel or Apple.

It's important to note that these are general associations and can vary depending on cultural differences or individual experiences.

So, when you're designing a logo, think carefully about the colors you choose. They're not just there to make your logo look pretty—they're communicating something about your brand.

Logo shapes and symbols

When it comes to logo design, it's not just about picking the right colors. Shapes and symbols also play a key role in conveying your brand’s personality. Just as with colors, different shapes can trigger different emotional responses.

Circles: Circles or ovals are often used to portray feelings of unity, wholeness, and infinity. They can also signify community, friendship, and love. Think about the iconic round logo of Target or the Olympic rings.

Squares and Rectangles: Squares and rectangles are associated with stability, balance, and reliability — characteristics that are often desired in many businesses. The Microsoft logo and National Geographic's yellow rectangle are perfect examples.

Triangles: Triangles can symbolize power, science, religion, and law. They can also represent direction and purpose. The Adidas logo, for instance, uses a triangle to suggest upward movement and ambition.

When it comes to symbols, they can add a layer of complexity and uniqueness to a logo design. A symbol can either be a literal or abstract representation of your brand's identity or the services you offer.

The Apple logo, for instance, is a simple yet powerful symbol that represents knowledge and discovery. The swoosh in the Nike logo, on the other hand, implies movement and speed.

Remember, the shapes and symbols you choose for your logo should be in line with your brand's personality and the message you want to convey.

Logo fonts and typography

So, you've chosen your colors and shapes, now let's talk about fonts and typography. This is another core element in the definition of logos. It's not just what you say, it's also how you present it that counts. The style of lettering in your logo can say a lot about your brand.

Serif Fonts: These fonts have small lines or strokes attached to the larger stroke of a letter. They evoke a classic, traditional, and trustworthy feel. You can see this in action in the logos of brands like Time Magazine and Rolex.

Sans Serif Fonts: Sans serif fonts lack the small lines at the end of letters, giving them a modern, clean, and minimalistic look. They're popular among tech companies, with brands like Facebook and Google utilizing them.

Script Fonts: Script fonts mimic handwriting and can range from formal and elegant to casual and quirky. Coca-Cola's logo is a great example of a script font that's become iconic.

But remember, the choice of font should not only reflect your brand's personality but also ensure readability. After all, you want people to be able to read and remember your brand's name easily.

So, while your logo's color and shape catch the eye, the right choice in font can help to cement your brand's image in a potential customer's mind.

Why logo evolution matters

Have you ever noticed how some logos change over time? These changes, whether small tweaks or major overhauls, are part of what we call logo evolution. It's a key part of understanding the full definition of logos.

Brands don't change their logos just for fun. There's a lot of thought, and often a lot of money, that goes into a logo redesign. But why?

The answer is simple: evolution. Just as people grow and change over time, so do brands. For a brand to remain relevant and appealing to its audience, it needs to keep up with the times. This doesn't mean changing your logo every few months, but rather subtly tweaking it to stay fresh and modern.

Take Apple, for example. Their first logo, introduced in 1976, was a complex illustration of Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree. Fast forward to today, and Apple's logo is a sleek and simple apple silhouette. The logo has evolved alongside the brand, keeping it modern and relevant in the ever-changing tech landscape.

Logo evolution is a balancing act. It's about maintaining brand recognition while staying current. So when you're designing a logo, it's important to think not just about how it represents your brand now, but how it can adapt and evolve in the future.

Famous logo designs and their stories

Every logo has a story to tell. Whether it's a hidden message or a nod to the company's history, the design of a logo can speak volumes about a brand. Here are some famous logos and the fascinating stories behind them.

Nike - The iconic 'swoosh' of Nike is a perfect example of simplicity in design. It was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for just $35! The swoosh represents motion and speed, reinforcing the brand's focus on athletic performance.

Starbucks - The siren in the Starbucks logo is a nod to the brand's seafaring roots. The founders wanted a logo that captured the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of early coffee traders. The siren, a mythical creature, was the perfect choice.

McDonald's - The golden arches of McDonald's are an instantly recognizable symbol worldwide. The ‘M’ stands for McDonald’s, but in the 1960s, psychologist Louis Cheskin suggested that the logo also represented a pair of nourishing breasts. Whether this was intentional or not, the logo has become a powerful symbol of fast food.

These stories show how a logo can embody a brand's identity and history. They serve as a reminder that a logo is not just a design element, but a representation of a brand's journey, values, and ambitions.

So, next time you see a logo, remember: there's more to it than meets the eye. As we've learned from the definition of logos, they are not just designs but the face of a brand, and, like faces, they have stories to tell.

If you want to further deepen your understanding of logos and their significance, we highly recommend the workshop 'Beginners Guide to Logos and Branding' by George Dyson. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and guidance on logo design and how it plays a crucial role in establishing a strong brand identity.